[singlepic id=402 w=320 h=240 float=left] Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Minister Curtis Pitt has congratulated the Mandingalbay Yidinji people who today celebrated the dedication of Australia’s first Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) over multiple tenures and nearly 10,000 hectares at East Trinity near Cairns.

Mr Pitt was representing Environment Minister Vicky Darling at the Cairns dedication ceremony.

He said the Mandingalbay Yidinji Indigenous Protected Area (MY IPA) of 9738 hectares, about 30km south-east of Cairns, was the result of a groundbreaking agreement between Traditional Owners and government bodies.

“The MY IPA covers parts of the Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park, Grey Peaks National Park, East Trinity Environmental Reserve, Malbon Thompson Forest Reserve, and Giangurra Council Reserve,” Mr Pitt said.

“Mandingalbay Yidinji people are the Traditional Owners of country to the east of Cairns across Trinity Inlet and received native title recognition in 2006.

“The area includes land that they are working hand in hand with Queensland Government agencies to restore after acid sulfates affected the soil.

“The IPA dedication will not affect existing tenure, but will provide a framework to join Mandingalbay Yidinji traditional country back together again.

“It means Traditional Owners can return to country, manage the natural and cultural values across the landscape, improve surveillance and cooperate in wildlife management.

“The partnerships under the IPA are already resulting in employment for Aboriginal people, and tourism opportunities.

“Mandingalbay Yidinji developed a management plan for the area with Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS), and created the Djunbunji Land and Sea program to put the management plan into operation

“Djunbunji Land and Sea program works out of premises provided by QPWS in Grey Peaks National Park and employs rangers and office staff.

“The Djunbunji community rangers, funded by the Commonwealth’s Working on Country program, are working side by side with the QPWS rangers. The Commonwealth Government has provided funds to assist Mandingalbay Yidinji to establish the IPA and for ongoing coordination.”

Ms Darling said these multiple-partner arrangements for looking after country together offered a model for other Traditional Owner groups and the Queensland Government to adopt.

“This groundbreaking arrangement will influence how DERM does business throughout the state,” she said.

“The IPA dedication is a tribute to all those who have worked on the arrangements for the past five years.

“Soon after native title determination, the Mandingalbay Yidinji prepared a strategic plan for their country, leading to development of an Indigenous Protected Area Management Plan.

“Terrain Natural Resource Management Ltd and the Australian Government have been instrumental in resourcing the IPA cooperative planning program to date.

“A formal Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA), between QPWS and the Mandingalbay Yidinji people, ensures management of the QPWS tenures and native title interests are properly integrated.

“Right on the doorstep of Cairns we have many land tenures that will be managed as traditional lands, with the partners looking after country together,” Ms Darling said.

“The IPA contains mangrove wetlands, open forest, rainforest, vine forest and melaleuca forest wetlands, and is habitat for many significant coastal and rainforest wildlife such crocodiles, dugong, turtles, and the northern spotted quoll.

“It includes East Trinity reserve, an important wetland where rehabilitation of acid sulfate soils (ASS), repairs to infrastructure, and weed and feral animal control have improved water and soil quality.

“Djunbunji rangers are playing a significant role in natural resource management across the East Trinity site addressing the management of weeds such as pond apple and lantana, and trapping feral pigs.”